For as long as I can remember, I’ve been an imposter.
In kindergarten, I wasn’t chosen for a key part in an amateur performance of The Nutcracker. Instead, the instructors cast me as one of the many mice soldiers. I longed to wear a white leotard and dance as one of the Sugar Plum fairies, so I told my uninvolved mother that I needed a white leotard and white tights. I crumbled up the little sheet which listed the actual attire I was assigned to get.
On the day of the performance, I ran up to the Sugar Plum Fairies, dressed as one of them. For a minute, surrounded by the prettier, more graceful girls, I fit in. I belonged somewhere I wanted to be, and it felt right. Except, it wasn’t right. I was not supposed to be in this group—I was supposed to be with the other awkward girls in brown across the room.
In 8th grade, I laid on the floor of my friend’s marble bathroom floor, smoking a cigarette and listening to Sex and Candy by Marcy Playground. I behaved as if I wasn’t in awe of the polished floors, that my bathroom floors didn’t have a perpetual layer of dust or wooden trim with mold growth. I inhaled the cigarette as if I were the rebel I was pretending to be, not the callow girl trembling inside at the thought of her parents catching us smoking. Here I wasn’t the girl who lived in a dirty house with a drunk dad who hit her mom and called her a “little bitch”. Here is where I ran to have an average family who lived in an ordinary house.
And so, it continued for 25 years. I’ve hidden my “weirdness,” knowing that people would run from me if exposed. I ran away from myself and followed the crowd. I got in the backseat of cars that bumped loud rap music out of the subs in the trunk. I drank alcohol until I forgot that I was a good girl uncomfortable with my surroundings. I’ve assumed a wholesome past in a professional setting, void of all the drama and shabby upbringing. In my desirable neighborhood, with my symmetrical family and my high paying job, I presume to have come from this all along.
I’m dizzy with the realization that I’ve run myself into oblivion.
I’m no longer here.
I’m still running. Except now, I’m running back to myself. Hopefully, I get there before I run out of time.
I’m 5-years-old, alone in a dark room. As my eyes adjust, I see them. Shadows covering every inch of the white walls. They are ominous forms with long arms that reach out to me. I hide my face hoping they’ll go away. It’s scarier not to see, so I peek out around the blanket. A faceless shadow spots me and rushes down, flying back to the ceiling as another begins to swirl off the wall. They are taking turns, rushing me--I scream.
I still sleep with a nightlight.
Because I know when it’s dark, the shadows come.